Annual Health Care Conference brings 90 stewards together

May 9, 2013 at 7:22pm

may09:13On April 29 & 30, the Local Union hosted its 11th Annual Health Care Conference in Toronto. Local 175 President Shawn Haggerty welcomed the 90 Stewards to the conference: “I know you are the heart, soul, mind and body of healthcare. But if the government doesn’t provide fuel for the body, the body can only do so much.”Education is key. Making sure our family and friends understand what Harper and Hudak want to do to the working families in this country. They want to divide us and turn us against one another and they’ll use any tactics they can, all the while feeding their own pockets and those of the corporations that support them.“The wealth of the country is being transferred to a very few powerful people and if we – working people – don’t stop it, we will have nothing left,” explained President Haggerty. “No education, no health care, no pensions… no future.”Fernando Reis, Legal Coordinator for Local 175, discussed the state of collective may09:13-2bargaining in healthcare and how legislation to freeze wages has cooled settlements in both the private and public sector.Arbitrator Diane Brownlee spoke about the Duty to Accommodate, explaining that the duty to accommodate involves three parties: the injured worker, the employer and the union (including its members). Injured workers are to be accommodated to the point of undue hardship, and the test of undue hardship applies to all parties.may09:13-3In the healthcare sector, accommodation often means additional duties are added to other staff creating what is perceived as an unfair workload and a burden on those workers. Arbitrators have ruled that this is allowed as long as those other workers are not put in unsafe working conditions as a result of the accommodation. It is important to remember those who are injured deserve to be accommodated, whether their injury is work-related or not. In all cases, the injured worker must stay involved throughout the accommodation process and keep in contact with the Union, the employer and, if the injury is work-related, with the WSIB as well.

Marv Funk, UFCW Canada Training Coordinator, presented a workshop on using Emotional Intelligence to recognize, assess and manage the role of emotion in a given situation to achieve a better outcome for everyone involved. This can be a particularly useful skill in health care and community health, where our members deal many clients who have mental health issues or addictions that can exacerbate situations. Changing the approach to those clients/situations not only helps achieve a better outcome for the client but also protects our members by keeping situations from escalating to a point where their health and safety is at risk.
On the second day, Stewards participated in town hall discussions where panels comprised of Union staff from the WSIB, Health & Safety, and Legal Departments, and Union Reps well-versed in Healthcare, fielded questions about workplace issues facing the Stewards. Concerns brought forward to the panels will be addressed and included in a follow up Health Care sector newsletter later this year.Harry Sutton, Executive Assistant to the President, closed the conference by echoing the message that President Haggerty delivered at the opening of the conference: the importance of ensuring our elected government is looking out for working families.